Continental Vending Inc. in Anaheim, Calif. realized immediate benefits from GPS in providing faster response to service calls, noted Joe Shake, company CFO. The company was introduced to the services of @road.com by its wireless phone carrier, which also serves as the carrier for the GPS service. Continental Vending has 35 routes.
"It was much faster for us to look at a map of all driver locations to see who was in the closest proximity to the customer to respond to their needs as opposed to calling them on the phone and asking where they are," Shake said. "As a result, GPS has saved us a lot of time and frustrations, thus equating to a cost savings as well."
OCS operation also finds benefits
Brand Coffee Service Inc., based in Houston, Texas, implemented Teletracs real time service a year ago to complement the OCS companys route handhelds. Ken Boerner, general manager, said the real-time feature has improved the accuracy of vehicle tracking. The company is now getting more service calls done per day.
Canteen of Central New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M. installed Fleetboss GPS on its eight service routes and six school foodservice routes last winter. Kevin Callesen, company president, said he wanted better accountability of the route vehicles since they cover a lot of terrain. The system has been particularly useful in multi-location accounts where the account manager may not be aware which machines have been serviced at a given time.
Callesen particularly likes the mapping feature the system creates to demonstrate visually where a vehicle has been. "A visual representation is a lot easier than verbally telling somebody," he noted.
Upfront cost can be high
The system cost $34,000 for hardware, software and training, Callesen said. The office staff had about 25 hours of training.
As with any technology that improves efficiency, the benefits accrue based on company size. However, small operators are finding benefits from GPS as well.
DAFCO Vending Service, a four-route operation based in San Francisco, Calif., realized efficiencies from the Teletrac system. There are no more early morning naps being taken in the trucks, noted Connie Mack, owner.
Some operators who invested in systems several years ago when they were more expensive did not stay with them.
Early users were more challenged
Eight years ago, Custom Vending Services in Beltsville, Md. spent close to $45,000 to install a real-time system plus a monthly maintenance fee of nearly $20 per vehicle for 24 routes and four technician vehicles. Mike Finelli, general manager, said the cellular signals were not always reliable. There were also issues with the GPS hardware and software.
The receivers also sometimes drained the vehicles batteries if the driver didnt turn the engine off when he left the vehicle, Finelli noted.
Finelli acknowledged that the system did provide certain benefits; it identified route redundancies. And in one instance, it was able to identify the location of a stolen truck.
He further noted that eight years is a long time when it comes to technology. "If we got into it now, it would be a completely different ball game," Finelli said.
Corporate Service Group, based in Tampa, Fla., was satisfied with the system from @road.com which it installed four years ago to track service vehicles in real time, noted Brad Bartholomew, president. Two years later, however, the service provider wanted to change all the hardware. At that point, Bartholomew decided the cost was too much and discontinued using the system.
Bartholomew acknowledged the system did give him more control of vehicles. He said it was particularly helpful to have a system that specifically identified the location of both the drivers and where the service calls were coming from.
Bartholomew has noticed costs have come down in the last two years and he is considering investing in another system.